Brits queue for the Wii

Two huge lines form outside stores on Oxford Street as people wait in the hopes of getting one of Nintendo's next-gen consoles on its European debut.

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Wii fever has officially started in Europe. Hundreds of gamers have been lined up outside stores on London's Oxford Street waiting for the Wii to go on sale for the first time in the region tonight at midnight. Two stores--Game and HMV--on the famed shopping street were opening at midnight to sell the console.

Some of those who waited brought similar fare seen at the launches of the console in North America (November 19) and Japan (December 2), including chairs, food supplies, and portables, to kill the time while they waited in unusually mild weather for the area.

Vic Ainsworth was first in line and skipped work early to set up camp outside Game this afternoon with his friend John Close. He said, "We're super keen. We can't wait to get the console. I figured why not come and queue? The earlier we got here, the more freebies we would get." He added that so far he had received a scarf, a cap, and even some pizza--all for free.

Sheree Russ is hoping to get a console for her son, Alfie. She said, "He wants it so much, that's why I'm standing here." But she also had a personal motive for waiting--she admitted that the Wii intrigued her as well. "The Wii bowling looks good," she laughed.

Almost all gamers said that they would be picking up an extra game with their Wii (the console already comes bundled with Wii Sports). Thirteen-year-old Josh Thompson said that The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was a must-buy. He said, "I'll be getting Zelda, and Red Steel, and Rayman. It's a Christmas and a birthday present all in one, but my parents told me I'm going to be allowed to play it today." His mother, who lined up with him, added that they were queuing tonight because they had learnt from past disappointments--last year they ordered an Xbox 360, but the delivery did not arrive in time for Christmas.

At Game, the retailer was keeping the crowd busy with free pizza, friendly competitions, and entertainers dressed as Nintendo characters.

Events were also taking place in Edinburgh, Birmingham, and Dublin. Gamestation Birmingham New Street store manager Matthew Perks told GameSpot that his store was ready for the launch. "People have been queuing here since 8 p.m., but there's a great atmosphere because everyone in line so far is guaranteed a Wii." He added that the store had 400 or so consoles to sell, 320 of which were allocated to preorders.

The console comes bundled in the UK with Wii Sports, a Wii Remote, and a Nunchuk controller for £179 (approximately $350).

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